Archive for the ‘Jerusalem’ Category

Watch Arrest of Female Arab Terrorist After Stabbing Hassid in Jerusalem – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: Israel Police / screenshot

A female Arab terrorist stabbed a Hassidic man on Sabbath afternoon as he walked past her in the street near the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem.

The victim, age 31, sustained a mild shoulder wound.

The 29-year-old woman who attacked him holds a blue Israeli identity card and lives in the Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Sur Baher.

The terrorist had tried earlier to attack a different victim but failed, according to nearby police, who saw the second attack and arrested her at the scene. They brought her to the local precinct for questioning.

Other officers provided first aid to the victim until the arrival of medics from the Magen David Adom emergency medical response service. He was taken to Jerusalems Hadassah Medical Center.

Israeli Police subsequently went to the home of the stabber to search the house, confiscating a computer and some documents.

During initial questioning, the terrorist told police she came to the scene with the intention to attack a Jew.

Police in Jerusalem remain on heightened alert.

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Watch Arrest of Female Arab Terrorist After Stabbing Hassid in Jerusalem – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

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Notes from Israel – The Hindu

Dont bother with taxis, just drive. The best advice I got for a holiday in Israel was to rent a car. It is easy to book online, and with digital navigators, it is very little trouble to find your way around on Israels amazing highways. The only exception is Tel Aviv, where heavy traffic and expensive parking means you are better off taking taxis. From Tel Aviv, it is about an hours drive to Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem, another couple of hours will get you to Israels eastern border with Jordan at the Dead Sea.

History walks

Israel is often called the tale of two cities: Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, that are as different from each other as could possibly be. Jerusalem is old, ancient in fact, and every stone and every wall tells a story of conflict from the beginning of time, starting in 2500 BCE. The city has been claimed by everyone from the time of King David (1000 BCE): Babylonians, Persians, Romans, Seljuks, Crusaders, Muslim invaders, Ottomans, British, Palestinians and Jews.

While todays conflict over who Jerusalem belongs to hangs over every peace process, a walk through Jerusalems walled city puts paid to any idea that this is the worst conflict. A guide is essential here, and listen carefully, because guides in Israel are trained historians, and take you through the labyrinths below the western wall and around the walled city as easily as they do through the ages. The tension, which is palpable, especially around checkpoints between the Arab Quarter and the Jewish Quarter, only makes this sense of Jerusalems turbulent and brutally violent history more real.

At the same time, it is the crucible of religions, and whether you walk down the Via Dolorosa, as Jesus Christ is believed to have, carrying his cross to his crucifixion, all the way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or to the wailing wall that is the closest that Jews can pray at their holiest shrine, the Temple Mount, built by King Solomon, or the Al-Aqsa mosque where the prophet Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven, it is impossible not to be moved by the combined faith of so many. For Indians, it is easier to relate to this aspect, our guide tells me, coming from another crucible of so many faiths where even more religions are practised.

The trip to the Dead Sea is equally historic. While you can spend your day in its salty water, and at the beach resorts that surround it, make the time for Masada one early morning. Built in 31 BCE by King Herod, this majestic fortress towers 500m over the desert, and has been preserved to tell the tale of the tragic siege by Romans that ended in mass suicide by the Jews after the Judean kingdom fell in 73 CE. The walk up to Masada is over an hour of extremely steep climbing, but is worth it for the sight of dawn from the top. Another easy day trip, if you are interested in the conflict of the present is to Mount Bentel, or the Golan Heights, that look over Syria on one side, and Lebanon to its other shoulder, and has seen much action in the last half of the 19th century. It is also possible to visit the occupied territories, or Palestinian land that Israeli soldiers control, if you want to learn more about the present conflict, but with a little more preparation, and a few permissions.

Coming to Tel Aviv after all this history and conflict is a culture shock, but equally absorbing. If Jerusalem is a monument to the past, Tel Aviv looks up to the future. The city hits the floor running every morning, as herds of morning joggers and walkers pour onto the boulevards along the Mediterranean coast. From dawn to sunset (dont miss this at Banana beach) and then well into the night, the city is abuzz with action and alive with diversity. Dizengoff Street is the official address for night-time partying, and between that and the informal dressing in Israel, one is left wondering if anyone ever works in Tel Aviv.

Big mistake

A note on how (not) to get to Israel. Despite all that I had heard about tight security on the national carrier El Al, I decided to take the direct flight from Mumbai to Tel Aviv that runs twice a week, on my most recent trip. Big mistake! The ordeal begins even before check-in as there is a pre check-in interrogation. I dont use the word lightly; the questioning by their marshals is akin to being in police custody, charged with a heinous crime. Just before boarding, one is checked again, and this time every item in your hand luggage is taken out and tested for explosives (my checked-in bag was rifled through as well).

I had the particular pleasure of having the marshal who interrogated me then sitting next to me, presumably to make sure I made no sudden moves mid-flight. The oft-used excuse for El Als rough ways that Israel has a particular terror threat must be re-argued in todays times, when terror is a global threat, and every city has been targeted. Fortunately, Air India announced in April this year that it will begin a direct flight Delhi-Mumbai-Tel Aviv flight, although it is unclear exactly when it will start. Until then Turkish Airlines via Istanbul is your best bet. Funnily, the best part about El Al is that its tagline, Its not just an airline, Its Israel, is untrue, and unfair to this incredible land.

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Notes from Israel – The Hindu

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Settlers force East Jerusalem family from home of 50 years – The National

It was time for evening prayers in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and Mohammed Shamasneh led relatives and neighbours through the prostrations, his forehead touching a carpet he had unfurled on the street outside his home.

“In the name of God, most gracious, most merciful, Praise be to God the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds,” he said and continued to recite the opening chapter of the Quran. When he concluded, the others responded: “Amen”.

It now seems that only divine intervention can save Mr Shamasneh, 45, his four children and his parents, Ayoub, 84 and mother Fahima, 76,from imminent eviction from the home they have lived in for more than 50 years.

How it has come to this is a stark illustration of how Israeli settlers are using the Israeli legal system adeptly to transform a neighbourhood to suit their own ends.

The Shamasneh family live in an area the settlerscall Shimon Hatzadik (Simeon the Just) after a Jewish high priest from the Second Temple era (530BC to 70AD) whose traditional burial site is nearby. It is a pivotal area north of the walled old city and the fate of the Shamasnehs marks another success in the settlers’ campaign to change its character – and in the process deal yet another blow to any chancesof a peaceful solution in which occupied East Jerusalem emerges as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

The Shamasnehs have lived in their two-bedroom house since 1964, three years before Israel captured the area from Jordan in the 1967 war. But in 2013, the Israeli supreme court upheld lower court rulings that effectively gave the property to the right-wing settler group, the Israel Land Fund, on the grounds that it was Jewish-owned before Jordan’s capture of East Jerusalem in 1948. The fund had gained the cooperation of the heir of the original Jewish owners and took the lead in the legal proceedings, which began in 2009.

Seated on a plastic chair near signs that said “No to Occupation” and “Sheikh Jarrah is Palestine”,Mohammed Shamasneh, a gardener, responded sharply when asked what the family woulddo when evicted.

“That’s a question you have to ask the government which is throwing out on to thestreet a family with two elderly people. In the meantime, we aren’t thinking about another place. We don’t have a replacement. The feeling is absolutely awful. We don’t have a place to go to,” he said.”My parents are taking it the hardest. They are here for tens of years. They say there is no justice in this country. If it was a Jewish elderly couple, would they do this to them?”

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Seven years ago, there were three such evictions in Sheikh Jarrah but due to protests and an international outcry, including condemnation fromthen US secretary of state Hillary Clinton,the practice was suspended. Palestinians and moderate Israelis said it was unjust for the Israeli legal system to allow Jews to retrieve pre-1948 properties in East Jerusalem while at the same time barring Palestinians from regaining their old properties in West Jerusalem.

Eyal Raz, one of a group of Israeli activists helping the Shamasneh family, says the fear is that their eviction the order came last month and now seems inevitable could be the start of a “long and wide” series of evictions.

When it comes to settlements, he said,the current Israeli government feels unassailable, partly because the Trump administration is willing to indulge it. A local planning committee recently gave preliminary approval for construction of a settler residential building on a site near the Shamasneh home. The building that stands there now houses 70 Palestinians.

Mr Shamasneh does not know exactly when the eviction will happen but expects it to be soon. It was originally slated for August 9 but his lawyer had managed to delay it pending a court hearing on Sunday. But a reversal of the decision is highly unlikely, since the high court has already ruled on it,he said. “The eviction is a foregone conclusion,” said Danny Seidemann, head of the Israeli NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem that monitors Israeli practices in East Jerusalem.

Inside the house, whose peeling walls are adorned with Quranic inscriptions and a picture of the Kaaba in Mecca, Ayoub Shamasneh,who suffers from swollen feet and high blood pressure, was distraught. He said the planned eviction showed a lack of mercy and was unjust. “The Jews don’t own one centimetre of Palestine,” he said.

Settler leader Arieh King, who is head of the Israel Land Fund and a Jerusalem city councillor, disagrees.

“This property belongs to Jews,” he told The National, referring to the Shamasneh house. “There is no reason why Jewish people who own property in East Jerusalem including in Shimon Hatzadik should not be allowed to live in their property. The local court, the district court and the supreme court all told them to leave. Everything we do, we do through the legal system. And we succeed.”

He said his group wouldcontinue its legal battles to gain evictions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. “At the end of our plans we will get to 400 Jewish families living in this area. Today there are 26, but in 10to 15 years it will be 400. Of course we are in the middle of court hearings to reclaim more property. ” He said his group had secured another three eviction orders in the same area as the Shamasneh home.

Asked whether he thinks Arabs should have to leave all their East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, Mr King replied: “If you ask me, the best way to have peace is for them to leave. But it’s not practical and I need to deal with what is realistic here in Jerusalem. Do I want it?I do, but I think it’s a very small chance that it will happen.”

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Settlers force East Jerusalem family from home of 50 years – The National

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Cat lover’s political conflict in Jerusalem – Shanghai Daily (subscription)

IT is nearly midnight when Tova Saul, an Orthodox Jew, approaches the Muslim quarter of Jerusalems Old City, carrying two large cases and a variety of contraptions.

Within an hour, a row will have started that will see four people, including Saul, dragged to a police station. But for now shes searching for cats.

For more than two decades she has fed and cared for hundreds of cats, earning the informal title of the walled Old Citys cat lady. Its not a nickname she likes.

When people refer to me as the cat lady, they are actually defining everybody else as people who wont lift a finger to help an animal in need. So really its an insult to the human race, she said.

The labyrinthine Old City, nearly a square kilometer and home to some of the holiest sites in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, hosts hundreds, perhaps thousands of alley cats. Across Jerusalem there are more than 100,000 strays, with only a limited government plan to deal with the problems they pose. But there is Saul and a few other volunteers.

Saul, who is unmarried, came to Israel in the 1980s from the United States and has been caring for animals ever since.

Since she started counting in 2009 she has caught and had spayed over 600 cats, while feeding thousands more.

Six hundred and twenty cats having kittens they can have kittens two or three times a year, each cat having three or four kittens at a time, she said. Most of those kittens die after a lot of suffering and literally hundreds of people walking past them, watching them go blind, watching them crying for their mothers, or being eaten alive by fleas.

Last year, she spent US$15,000 of her own money on the cats, with just US$7,000 in donations.

The rest of her time, Saul, who is in her fifties, is a tour guide and Airbnb host.

The municipality used to poison strays but that programme was scrapped more than a decade ago, said Assaf Brill, head of the citys veterinary service.

They rely on volunteers and Saul is one of the citys most active working in areas many Jewish people are unwilling to visit. She started in the Old Citys Jewish Quarter, where she lives in a two-bedroom flat currently filled with five cats and six kittens.

Within a few years she has trapped and had spayed all the female cats in the Jewish Quarter.

Saul goes on a mission in the Muslim Quarter on an average night.

As an Israeli American who speaks only one phrase of badly pronounced Arabic, Allah and Mohammed want big strong men to be nice to animals, she said.

There have been a few times where they (Palestinians) have said: What are you doing? And I explain to them and they look at me and they have these big brown eyes, these beautiful eyes, and they say: Wow, thank you. You have a good heart.

She usually likes to work between one and five in the morning when the streets are deserted. This night starts earlier.

As she enters the Old City and sets up her baited traps three ultra-Orthodox Jewish men stop and stand by the trap.

Saul asks them, politely at first, to move on but they refuse. Within a few minutes the scene escalates.

The Nazis behaved exactly like that, one man said. Hitler kissed his dog at the same time as sending people to the crematorium.

Saul is incandescent. A Jew calling another Jew a Nazi? she shouted.

She throws hummus at the man, splattering his back. Police arrive and all four are taken to the station. After half-hearted apologies, they are released without charges, but by now it is nearly 2:30am.

Saul heads back to the car to grab her traps. For Jerusalems cat lady, the night is just getting started.

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Cat lover’s political conflict in Jerusalem – Shanghai Daily (subscription)

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Jerusalem parents: Say no to haredi-ization of Jerusalem school – Arutz Sheva

Over 200 Jerusalem parents sent an urgent letter to Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), opposing the Jerusalem municipality’s decision to move the religious public school Brandet from its campus in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood in order to use the campus for a haredi school.

The parents, all Religious Zionists, submitted an administrative appeal against the the process of moving the school to where the Shefa school currently is, in order to give Brandet’s current building to an independent haredi school.

“We absolutely oppose this action, which is not correct educationally and severely harms the National Religious public, as well as the secular and moderate haredi public in Neve Yaakov. And this is besides the fact that the move is not being handled the way the law stipulates it should be,” the parents wrote.

The parents also noted that according to Education Ministry policies, an Education Ministry school cannot be moved from its building in order to give the building to an independent school, unless the Ministry approves the move.

“This issue is under your and your ministry’s jurisdiction,” the parents wrote. “Besides for the fact that moving our school is not the proper thing to do for the public or the children’s education, it also opposes the Education Ministry’s policies. Therefore, we are asking you not to go along with this process, and not to approve it.”

Yisrael Elishevitz, who heads Neve Yaakov’s Religious Zionist community, told Arutz Sheva that “in Jerusalem, there is an extremist haredi group who wants either to divide Jerusalem, or to have a population swap. The religious community has become a black sheep, and the city is turning haredi.”

“Now the keys are in the hands of Education Minister Naftali Bennett. He needs to sign a form approving Jerusalem’s decision to move a Religious Zionist school for the sake of a haredi school.

“According to the law, such a move requires at least six months prior warning.

“I call on Minister Bennett not to give in, and not to sign.”

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Jerusalem parents: Say no to haredi-ization of Jerusalem school – Arutz Sheva

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Jerusalem Drops Plan to Build Luxury Homes Atop Ancient Palestinian Village – Haaretz

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Jerusalem city council members objected to building 200 luxury villas on abandoned Palestinian village of Lifta, whose future will now undergo further consideration

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Palestinians to court: remove settlers from Hebron home – The Jerusalem Post

The home in Hebron currently illegally occupied by 15 settler families. (photo credit:TOVAH LAZAROFF)

The Abu Rajab family petitioned the High Court of Justice this week to force the state to remove 15 settler families from a three-story building in Hebron.

The state and the IDF have until Wednesday to respond.

The Hebron Jewish families illegally moved into the structure, known as Beit Hamachpela, on July 24, five years after they first made a purchase claim to the property, which is registered to the Rajab family.

The Jewish families have asked the state to allow them to remain until the Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria registers the property in their name.

Members of the Rajab family have contested the sale.

Their attorney, Samer Shadadeh, argued in the petition that the IDFs failure to immediately remove the families breached a legal agreement, which forbade the settlers from using or living in the structure until the Civil Administration authenticated the sale and all legal and bureaucratic procedures were concluded.

The settlers should be legally viewed as squatters who have broken into the property, Shadadeh argued.

The Rajab family has a right to expect that the IDF would treat them as such, and immediately help the Rajab family by removing them from the building, he said.

The lawyer for the Hebron families, Doron Nir Zvi, said it was already clear that the sale would be authenticated and therefore there was no reason to deny the families access to the site.

The Defense Ministry has given them the right to purchase the property. The military arbitration court has ordered the Civil Administration to fully review the application by the settlers to register the property in their name.

There is no reason to delay here, he said.

After the families moved in, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the IDF not to immediately remove them.

Since then there have been ongoing discussion between his office, the Defense Ministry, the Civil Administration and the Attorney-Generals Office to explore the familys legal right to inhabit the property.

The families have received support from a number of prominent Likud members, including coalition chairman David Bitan, who has made two trips to the City of the Forefathers since they moved in.

Authenticating the sale has been complicated in part because the building was inherited by a number of heirs from the Rajab family.

Among the issues in question is whether the sale was done through a family member with rights to the property.

The structure is located across the parking lot from the Cave of the Patriarchs and next to two schools, in an otherwise Palestinian neighborhood.

It is a section of the city that is under Israeli military and civilian control.

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Palestinians to court: remove settlers from Hebron home – The Jerusalem Post

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Five terrorists nabbed en route to attack near Jerusalem – Arutz Sheva

Security forces avert terror attack near Jerusalem Thursday, capture five Arab terrorists.

David Rosenberg, 10/08/17 17:59 | updated: 18:03

Israeli authorities captured five terrorists on their way to commit a terror attack east of Jerusalem Thursday afternoon.

The five terrorists, all residents of the Hevron region in Judea, were arrested in al-Eizariya, a Palestinian Authority-controlled city just east of Jerusalem.

The arrest was carried out by members of the Yamam special police force unit of the Border Police in a joint operation with Israel Police. Shortly before the arrest, the Shin Bet internal security agency reportedly received concrete information regarding an attack planned by the terror cell.

According to security officials, the terror cell was a ticking time-bomb, Channel 10 reported, and the arrest of the five likely averted an imminent attack.

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Five terrorists nabbed en route to attack near Jerusalem – Arutz Sheva

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Polish villagers hold Jewish wedding without Jews – The Jerusalem Post

Nostalgia for Jews is a well-documented phenomenon in Eastern Europe, with cultural and even substantial commercial aspects.

In Ukraine, so-called Jewish-themed restaurants with pork-heavy menus compete for tourists, while figurines of Jews are sold at markets as good luck charms. In Poland, graffiti reading I miss you, Jew have become a common sight.

Beyond the kitsch, Jewish cultural festivals draw large non-Jewish audiences in Krakow, Warsaw and Budapest.

Some credit this trend to a feeling of loss over the near annihilation of once-vibrant Jewish communities. Others trace it a desire to reconnect with the pre-Soviet past.

But even against this backdrop, the fake Jewish wedding that was held Saturday in the village of Radzanw, 80 miles northeast of Warsaw, stands out as a remarkable affair.

Make-believe Jewish weddings a regular educational event in Spain and Portugal, where nostalgia for nearly-extinct Jewish communities is also prevalent are rare in Poland (locals in the village of Bobowa organized one in 2013). Even rarer are enactments as well-produced as the one in Radzanow.

Organized by the Radzanovia Association, a cultural group promoting Polish heritage, the event featured a few dozen non-Jewish volunteers, men and women, dressed in traditional haredi costumes. Some men wore fake beards and side curls including ones that didnt match their natural hair color.

Portraying the groom was Piotr Czaplicki, a journalist for the Radia dla Ciebie station. Czaplicki, who is not Jewish, got under a chuppah the canopy used in traditional Jewish weddings together with his make-believe bride, Julia Brzeziska, a local resident. They were wed by a fake rabbi in a show before villagers, whom the events organizers sought to teach about Jewish traditions.

To Jonny Daniels, the London-born founder of From the Depths, which promotes Holocaust commemoration in Poland, events like the one in Radzanw are some kind of therapy taking place all over the country.

“Literally hundreds of Jewish cultural festivals are taking place, more often than not with no Jews involved. Poland too has the highest rate of Hebrew language studies in all of Europe,” Daniels continued to The Jerusalem Post. “I truly believe that the third and fourth generation of Poles since the Holocaust are starting to see how much Jewish culture is part of modern-day Polish culture — it’s amazing that this heritage created by 3.5 million murdered Jews is still relevant today.”

But the events producer, Agnieszka Rychcik-Nowakowska, sees it as a way of commemorating the hundreds of Jews who had accounted for approximately half of her villages population before the Holocaust.

We want to remember all those homes of all pre-war Jews, who lived a peaceful life punctuated by the rhythm of holidays, family celebrations and more mundane events, she told the news site Nasza Mlawa.

Jews first settled in Radzanw in 1710, and at their peak numbered about 500. By September 1939, when the Germans took over, the population had dipped below 300. Nearly all who remained would be sent to the Mlawa ghetto, never to return.

We remember those who lived here before us and entered the memory of our grandmothers and grandparents. It was so recently, said Rychcik-Nowakowska.

Elsewhere in Europe, Jewish-themed festivals are more common , bringing together hundreds of participants. There too, Jewish-themed events are held in the absence of a living, breathing Jewish community thanks to nostalgia and a desire to generate tourism revenue.

But in Spain and Portugal, for example, where hundreds of thousands of Jews were oppressed 500 years ago during the Inquisition, the passage of time has made goodwill gestures toward Jews less complicated than in the east. In 2013, Spain and Portugal even passed laws granting citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews a move whose generosity contrasts sharply with the refusal by Poland and other East European countries to offer even partial restitution for property that was stolen from Jewish communities.

At the fake wedding in Radzanw, organizers turned to Teresa Wroska, an actress from the Jewish Theater in Warsaw, to assure the weddings authenticity. She choreographed the entire affair from the signing of the ketubah (the Jewish marriage contract) to the traditional Jewish music played by a band of locals and musicians from the capital.

Even the POLIN Jewish museum of Warsaw was consulted in staging the event, according to Nasza Mlawa.

The wedding is not the only attempt by Radzanw locals to reconnect with their villages lost Jewish heritage. Last year, a high school student from the region, Cuba Balinski, initiated a project aimed at rededicating and reopening the villages abandoned synagogue a small but beautiful Moorish-style building that miraculously survived the Nazi occupation.

Balinski, who has secured the cooperation of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland for his project but is still looking for investors, is adamant about restoring the synagogue to a house of worship rather than having it turn into museum.

If there is no Torah in the synagogue, than it is still just a building, he told the news site Gosc Plocki. But if we bring the holy book back, it will come back to life.

Jpost staff contributed to this story.

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Watch Arrest of Female Arab Terrorist After Stabbing Hassid in Jerusalem – The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: Israel Police / screenshot A female Arab terrorist stabbed a Hassidic man on Sabbath afternoon as he walked past her in the street near the Damascus Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. The victim, age 31, sustained a mild shoulder wound. The 29-year-old woman who attacked him holds a blue Israeli identity card and lives in the Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Sur Baher. The terrorist had tried earlier to attack a different victim but failed, according to nearby police, who saw the second attack and arrested her at the scene. They brought her to the local precinct for questioning. Other officers provided first aid to the victim until the arrival of medics from the Magen David Adom emergency medical response service. He was taken to Jerusalems Hadassah Medical Center. Israeli Police subsequently went to the home of the stabber to search the house, confiscating a computer and some documents. During initial questioning, the terrorist told police she came to the scene with the intention to attack a Jew. Police in Jerusalem remain on heightened alert.

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Notes from Israel – The Hindu

Dont bother with taxis, just drive. The best advice I got for a holiday in Israel was to rent a car. It is easy to book online, and with digital navigators, it is very little trouble to find your way around on Israels amazing highways. The only exception is Tel Aviv, where heavy traffic and expensive parking means you are better off taking taxis. From Tel Aviv, it is about an hours drive to Jerusalem, and from Jerusalem, another couple of hours will get you to Israels eastern border with Jordan at the Dead Sea. History walks Israel is often called the tale of two cities: Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, that are as different from each other as could possibly be. Jerusalem is old, ancient in fact, and every stone and every wall tells a story of conflict from the beginning of time, starting in 2500 BCE. The city has been claimed by everyone from the time of King David (1000 BCE): Babylonians, Persians, Romans, Seljuks, Crusaders, Muslim invaders, Ottomans, British, Palestinians and Jews. While todays conflict over who Jerusalem belongs to hangs over every peace process, a walk through Jerusalems walled city puts paid to any idea that this is the worst conflict. A guide is essential here, and listen carefully, because guides in Israel are trained historians, and take you through the labyrinths below the western wall and around the walled city as easily as they do through the ages. The tension, which is palpable, especially around checkpoints between the Arab Quarter and the Jewish Quarter, only makes this sense of Jerusalems turbulent and brutally violent history more real. At the same time, it is the crucible of religions, and whether you walk down the Via Dolorosa, as Jesus Christ is believed to have, carrying his cross to his crucifixion, all the way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, or to the wailing wall that is the closest that Jews can pray at their holiest shrine, the Temple Mount, built by King Solomon, or the Al-Aqsa mosque where the prophet Muhammad is believed to have ascended to heaven, it is impossible not to be moved by the combined faith of so many. For Indians, it is easier to relate to this aspect, our guide tells me, coming from another crucible of so many faiths where even more religions are practised. The trip to the Dead Sea is equally historic. While you can spend your day in its salty water, and at the beach resorts that surround it, make the time for Masada one early morning. Built in 31 BCE by King Herod, this majestic fortress towers 500m over the desert, and has been preserved to tell the tale of the tragic siege by Romans that ended in mass suicide by the Jews after the Judean kingdom fell in 73 CE. The walk up to Masada is over an hour of extremely steep climbing, but is worth it for the sight of dawn from the top. Another easy day trip, if you are interested in the conflict of the present is to Mount Bentel, or the Golan Heights, that look over Syria on one side, and Lebanon to its other shoulder, and has seen much action in the last half of the 19th century. It is also possible to visit the occupied territories, or Palestinian land that Israeli soldiers control, if you want to learn more about the present conflict, but with a little more preparation, and a few permissions. Coming to Tel Aviv after all this history and conflict is a culture shock, but equally absorbing. If Jerusalem is a monument to the past, Tel Aviv looks up to the future. The city hits the floor running every morning, as herds of morning joggers and walkers pour onto the boulevards along the Mediterranean coast. From dawn to sunset (dont miss this at Banana beach) and then well into the night, the city is abuzz with action and alive with diversity. Dizengoff Street is the official address for night-time partying, and between that and the informal dressing in Israel, one is left wondering if anyone ever works in Tel Aviv. Big mistake A note on how (not) to get to Israel. Despite all that I had heard about tight security on the national carrier El Al, I decided to take the direct flight from Mumbai to Tel Aviv that runs twice a week, on my most recent trip. Big mistake! The ordeal begins even before check-in as there is a pre check-in interrogation. I dont use the word lightly; the questioning by their marshals is akin to being in police custody, charged with a heinous crime. Just before boarding, one is checked again, and this time every item in your hand luggage is taken out and tested for explosives (my checked-in bag was rifled through as well). I had the particular pleasure of having the marshal who interrogated me then sitting next to me, presumably to make sure I made no sudden moves mid-flight. The oft-used excuse for El Als rough ways that Israel has a particular terror threat must be re-argued in todays times, when terror is a global threat, and every city has been targeted. Fortunately, Air India announced in April this year that it will begin a direct flight Delhi-Mumbai-Tel Aviv flight, although it is unclear exactly when it will start. Until then Turkish Airlines via Istanbul is your best bet. Funnily, the best part about El Al is that its tagline, Its not just an airline, Its Israel, is untrue, and unfair to this incredible land.

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August 12, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Settlers force East Jerusalem family from home of 50 years – The National

It was time for evening prayers in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and Mohammed Shamasneh led relatives and neighbours through the prostrations, his forehead touching a carpet he had unfurled on the street outside his home. “In the name of God, most gracious, most merciful, Praise be to God the Cherisher and Sustainer of the worlds,” he said and continued to recite the opening chapter of the Quran. When he concluded, the others responded: “Amen”. It now seems that only divine intervention can save Mr Shamasneh, 45, his four children and his parents, Ayoub, 84 and mother Fahima, 76,from imminent eviction from the home they have lived in for more than 50 years. How it has come to this is a stark illustration of how Israeli settlers are using the Israeli legal system adeptly to transform a neighbourhood to suit their own ends. The Shamasneh family live in an area the settlerscall Shimon Hatzadik (Simeon the Just) after a Jewish high priest from the Second Temple era (530BC to 70AD) whose traditional burial site is nearby. It is a pivotal area north of the walled old city and the fate of the Shamasnehs marks another success in the settlers’ campaign to change its character – and in the process deal yet another blow to any chancesof a peaceful solution in which occupied East Jerusalem emerges as the capital of an independent Palestinian state. The Shamasnehs have lived in their two-bedroom house since 1964, three years before Israel captured the area from Jordan in the 1967 war. But in 2013, the Israeli supreme court upheld lower court rulings that effectively gave the property to the right-wing settler group, the Israel Land Fund, on the grounds that it was Jewish-owned before Jordan’s capture of East Jerusalem in 1948. The fund had gained the cooperation of the heir of the original Jewish owners and took the lead in the legal proceedings, which began in 2009. Seated on a plastic chair near signs that said “No to Occupation” and “Sheikh Jarrah is Palestine”,Mohammed Shamasneh, a gardener, responded sharply when asked what the family woulddo when evicted. “That’s a question you have to ask the government which is throwing out on to thestreet a family with two elderly people. In the meantime, we aren’t thinking about another place. We don’t have a replacement. The feeling is absolutely awful. We don’t have a place to go to,” he said.”My parents are taking it the hardest. They are here for tens of years. They say there is no justice in this country. If it was a Jewish elderly couple, would they do this to them?” __________________________________________________ Read more: Netanyahu’s possible downfall gives Palestinians little reason for optimism King Abdullah and Abbas agree on Al Aqsa working group Will new leader of Israel’s Labour party bring hope for the Palestinians? __________________________________________________ Seven years ago, there were three such evictions in Sheikh Jarrah but due to protests and an international outcry, including condemnation fromthen US secretary of state Hillary Clinton,the practice was suspended. Palestinians and moderate Israelis said it was unjust for the Israeli legal system to allow Jews to retrieve pre-1948 properties in East Jerusalem while at the same time barring Palestinians from regaining their old properties in West Jerusalem. Eyal Raz, one of a group of Israeli activists helping the Shamasneh family, says the fear is that their eviction the order came last month and now seems inevitable could be the start of a “long and wide” series of evictions. When it comes to settlements, he said,the current Israeli government feels unassailable, partly because the Trump administration is willing to indulge it. A local planning committee recently gave preliminary approval for construction of a settler residential building on a site near the Shamasneh home. The building that stands there now houses 70 Palestinians. Mr Shamasneh does not know exactly when the eviction will happen but expects it to be soon. It was originally slated for August 9 but his lawyer had managed to delay it pending a court hearing on Sunday. But a reversal of the decision is highly unlikely, since the high court has already ruled on it,he said. “The eviction is a foregone conclusion,” said Danny Seidemann, head of the Israeli NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem that monitors Israeli practices in East Jerusalem. Inside the house, whose peeling walls are adorned with Quranic inscriptions and a picture of the Kaaba in Mecca, Ayoub Shamasneh,who suffers from swollen feet and high blood pressure, was distraught. He said the planned eviction showed a lack of mercy and was unjust. “The Jews don’t own one centimetre of Palestine,” he said. Settler leader Arieh King, who is head of the Israel Land Fund and a Jerusalem city councillor, disagrees. “This property belongs to Jews,” he told The National, referring to the Shamasneh house. “There is no reason why Jewish people who own property in East Jerusalem including in Shimon Hatzadik should not be allowed to live in their property. The local court, the district court and the supreme court all told them to leave. Everything we do, we do through the legal system. And we succeed.” He said his group wouldcontinue its legal battles to gain evictions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. “At the end of our plans we will get to 400 Jewish families living in this area. Today there are 26, but in 10to 15 years it will be 400. Of course we are in the middle of court hearings to reclaim more property. ” He said his group had secured another three eviction orders in the same area as the Shamasneh home. Asked whether he thinks Arabs should have to leave all their East Jerusalem neighbourhoods, Mr King replied: “If you ask me, the best way to have peace is for them to leave. But it’s not practical and I need to deal with what is realistic here in Jerusalem. Do I want it?I do, but I think it’s a very small chance that it will happen.”

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August 12, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Cat lover’s political conflict in Jerusalem – Shanghai Daily (subscription)

IT is nearly midnight when Tova Saul, an Orthodox Jew, approaches the Muslim quarter of Jerusalems Old City, carrying two large cases and a variety of contraptions. Within an hour, a row will have started that will see four people, including Saul, dragged to a police station. But for now shes searching for cats. For more than two decades she has fed and cared for hundreds of cats, earning the informal title of the walled Old Citys cat lady. Its not a nickname she likes. When people refer to me as the cat lady, they are actually defining everybody else as people who wont lift a finger to help an animal in need. So really its an insult to the human race, she said. The labyrinthine Old City, nearly a square kilometer and home to some of the holiest sites in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, hosts hundreds, perhaps thousands of alley cats. Across Jerusalem there are more than 100,000 strays, with only a limited government plan to deal with the problems they pose. But there is Saul and a few other volunteers. Saul, who is unmarried, came to Israel in the 1980s from the United States and has been caring for animals ever since. Since she started counting in 2009 she has caught and had spayed over 600 cats, while feeding thousands more. Six hundred and twenty cats having kittens they can have kittens two or three times a year, each cat having three or four kittens at a time, she said. Most of those kittens die after a lot of suffering and literally hundreds of people walking past them, watching them go blind, watching them crying for their mothers, or being eaten alive by fleas. Last year, she spent US$15,000 of her own money on the cats, with just US$7,000 in donations. The rest of her time, Saul, who is in her fifties, is a tour guide and Airbnb host. The municipality used to poison strays but that programme was scrapped more than a decade ago, said Assaf Brill, head of the citys veterinary service. They rely on volunteers and Saul is one of the citys most active working in areas many Jewish people are unwilling to visit. She started in the Old Citys Jewish Quarter, where she lives in a two-bedroom flat currently filled with five cats and six kittens. Within a few years she has trapped and had spayed all the female cats in the Jewish Quarter. Saul goes on a mission in the Muslim Quarter on an average night. As an Israeli American who speaks only one phrase of badly pronounced Arabic, Allah and Mohammed want big strong men to be nice to animals, she said. There have been a few times where they (Palestinians) have said: What are you doing? And I explain to them and they look at me and they have these big brown eyes, these beautiful eyes, and they say: Wow, thank you. You have a good heart. She usually likes to work between one and five in the morning when the streets are deserted. This night starts earlier. As she enters the Old City and sets up her baited traps three ultra-Orthodox Jewish men stop and stand by the trap. Saul asks them, politely at first, to move on but they refuse. Within a few minutes the scene escalates. The Nazis behaved exactly like that, one man said. Hitler kissed his dog at the same time as sending people to the crematorium. Saul is incandescent. A Jew calling another Jew a Nazi? she shouted. She throws hummus at the man, splattering his back. Police arrive and all four are taken to the station. After half-hearted apologies, they are released without charges, but by now it is nearly 2:30am. Saul heads back to the car to grab her traps. For Jerusalems cat lady, the night is just getting started.

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August 11, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Jerusalem parents: Say no to haredi-ization of Jerusalem school – Arutz Sheva

Over 200 Jerusalem parents sent an urgent letter to Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), opposing the Jerusalem municipality’s decision to move the religious public school Brandet from its campus in the Neve Yaakov neighborhood in order to use the campus for a haredi school. The parents, all Religious Zionists, submitted an administrative appeal against the the process of moving the school to where the Shefa school currently is, in order to give Brandet’s current building to an independent haredi school. “We absolutely oppose this action, which is not correct educationally and severely harms the National Religious public, as well as the secular and moderate haredi public in Neve Yaakov. And this is besides the fact that the move is not being handled the way the law stipulates it should be,” the parents wrote. The parents also noted that according to Education Ministry policies, an Education Ministry school cannot be moved from its building in order to give the building to an independent school, unless the Ministry approves the move. “This issue is under your and your ministry’s jurisdiction,” the parents wrote. “Besides for the fact that moving our school is not the proper thing to do for the public or the children’s education, it also opposes the Education Ministry’s policies. Therefore, we are asking you not to go along with this process, and not to approve it.” Yisrael Elishevitz, who heads Neve Yaakov’s Religious Zionist community, told Arutz Sheva that “in Jerusalem, there is an extremist haredi group who wants either to divide Jerusalem, or to have a population swap. The religious community has become a black sheep, and the city is turning haredi.” “Now the keys are in the hands of Education Minister Naftali Bennett. He needs to sign a form approving Jerusalem’s decision to move a Religious Zionist school for the sake of a haredi school. “According to the law, such a move requires at least six months prior warning. “I call on Minister Bennett not to give in, and not to sign.”

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August 11, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Jerusalem Drops Plan to Build Luxury Homes Atop Ancient Palestinian Village – Haaretz

Home > Israel News Jerusalem city council members objected to building 200 luxury villas on abandoned Palestinian village of Lifta, whose future will now undergo further consideration Want to enjoy ‘Zen’ reading – with no ads and just the article? Subscribe today We’ve got more newsletters we think you’ll find interesting. Please try again later. This email address has already registered for this newsletter.

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August 11, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Palestinians to court: remove settlers from Hebron home – The Jerusalem Post

The home in Hebron currently illegally occupied by 15 settler families. (photo credit:TOVAH LAZAROFF) The Abu Rajab family petitioned the High Court of Justice this week to force the state to remove 15 settler families from a three-story building in Hebron. The state and the IDF have until Wednesday to respond. The Hebron Jewish families illegally moved into the structure, known as Beit Hamachpela, on July 24, five years after they first made a purchase claim to the property, which is registered to the Rajab family. The Jewish families have asked the state to allow them to remain until the Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria registers the property in their name. Members of the Rajab family have contested the sale. Their attorney, Samer Shadadeh, argued in the petition that the IDFs failure to immediately remove the families breached a legal agreement, which forbade the settlers from using or living in the structure until the Civil Administration authenticated the sale and all legal and bureaucratic procedures were concluded. The settlers should be legally viewed as squatters who have broken into the property, Shadadeh argued. The Rajab family has a right to expect that the IDF would treat them as such, and immediately help the Rajab family by removing them from the building, he said. The lawyer for the Hebron families, Doron Nir Zvi, said it was already clear that the sale would be authenticated and therefore there was no reason to deny the families access to the site. The Defense Ministry has given them the right to purchase the property. The military arbitration court has ordered the Civil Administration to fully review the application by the settlers to register the property in their name. There is no reason to delay here, he said. After the families moved in, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the IDF not to immediately remove them. Since then there have been ongoing discussion between his office, the Defense Ministry, the Civil Administration and the Attorney-Generals Office to explore the familys legal right to inhabit the property. The families have received support from a number of prominent Likud members, including coalition chairman David Bitan, who has made two trips to the City of the Forefathers since they moved in. Authenticating the sale has been complicated in part because the building was inherited by a number of heirs from the Rajab family. Among the issues in question is whether the sale was done through a family member with rights to the property. The structure is located across the parking lot from the Cave of the Patriarchs and next to two schools, in an otherwise Palestinian neighborhood. It is a section of the city that is under Israeli military and civilian control. Share on facebook

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August 11, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Five terrorists nabbed en route to attack near Jerusalem – Arutz Sheva

Security forces avert terror attack near Jerusalem Thursday, capture five Arab terrorists. David Rosenberg, 10/08/17 17:59 | updated: 18:03 Israeli authorities captured five terrorists on their way to commit a terror attack east of Jerusalem Thursday afternoon. The five terrorists, all residents of the Hevron region in Judea, were arrested in al-Eizariya, a Palestinian Authority-controlled city just east of Jerusalem. The arrest was carried out by members of the Yamam special police force unit of the Border Police in a joint operation with Israel Police. Shortly before the arrest, the Shin Bet internal security agency reportedly received concrete information regarding an attack planned by the terror cell. According to security officials, the terror cell was a ticking time-bomb, Channel 10 reported, and the arrest of the five likely averted an imminent attack.

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August 10, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed

Polish villagers hold Jewish wedding without Jews – The Jerusalem Post

Nostalgia for Jews is a well-documented phenomenon in Eastern Europe, with cultural and even substantial commercial aspects. In Ukraine, so-called Jewish-themed restaurants with pork-heavy menus compete for tourists, while figurines of Jews are sold at markets as good luck charms. In Poland, graffiti reading I miss you, Jew have become a common sight. Beyond the kitsch, Jewish cultural festivals draw large non-Jewish audiences in Krakow, Warsaw and Budapest. Some credit this trend to a feeling of loss over the near annihilation of once-vibrant Jewish communities. Others trace it a desire to reconnect with the pre-Soviet past. But even against this backdrop, the fake Jewish wedding that was held Saturday in the village of Radzanw, 80 miles northeast of Warsaw, stands out as a remarkable affair. Make-believe Jewish weddings a regular educational event in Spain and Portugal, where nostalgia for nearly-extinct Jewish communities is also prevalent are rare in Poland (locals in the village of Bobowa organized one in 2013). Even rarer are enactments as well-produced as the one in Radzanow. Organized by the Radzanovia Association, a cultural group promoting Polish heritage, the event featured a few dozen non-Jewish volunteers, men and women, dressed in traditional haredi costumes. Some men wore fake beards and side curls including ones that didnt match their natural hair color. Portraying the groom was Piotr Czaplicki, a journalist for the Radia dla Ciebie station. Czaplicki, who is not Jewish, got under a chuppah the canopy used in traditional Jewish weddings together with his make-believe bride, Julia Brzeziska, a local resident. They were wed by a fake rabbi in a show before villagers, whom the events organizers sought to teach about Jewish traditions. To Jonny Daniels, the London-born founder of From the Depths, which promotes Holocaust commemoration in Poland, events like the one in Radzanw are some kind of therapy taking place all over the country. “Literally hundreds of Jewish cultural festivals are taking place, more often than not with no Jews involved. Poland too has the highest rate of Hebrew language studies in all of Europe,” Daniels continued to The Jerusalem Post. “I truly believe that the third and fourth generation of Poles since the Holocaust are starting to see how much Jewish culture is part of modern-day Polish culture — it’s amazing that this heritage created by 3.5 million murdered Jews is still relevant today.” But the events producer, Agnieszka Rychcik-Nowakowska, sees it as a way of commemorating the hundreds of Jews who had accounted for approximately half of her villages population before the Holocaust. We want to remember all those homes of all pre-war Jews, who lived a peaceful life punctuated by the rhythm of holidays, family celebrations and more mundane events, she told the news site Nasza Mlawa. Jews first settled in Radzanw in 1710, and at their peak numbered about 500. By September 1939, when the Germans took over, the population had dipped below 300. Nearly all who remained would be sent to the Mlawa ghetto, never to return. We remember those who lived here before us and entered the memory of our grandmothers and grandparents. It was so recently, said Rychcik-Nowakowska. Elsewhere in Europe, Jewish-themed festivals are more common , bringing together hundreds of participants. There too, Jewish-themed events are held in the absence of a living, breathing Jewish community thanks to nostalgia and a desire to generate tourism revenue. But in Spain and Portugal, for example, where hundreds of thousands of Jews were oppressed 500 years ago during the Inquisition, the passage of time has made goodwill gestures toward Jews less complicated than in the east. In 2013, Spain and Portugal even passed laws granting citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews a move whose generosity contrasts sharply with the refusal by Poland and other East European countries to offer even partial restitution for property that was stolen from Jewish communities. At the fake wedding in Radzanw, organizers turned to Teresa Wroska, an actress from the Jewish Theater in Warsaw, to assure the weddings authenticity. She choreographed the entire affair from the signing of the ketubah (the Jewish marriage contract) to the traditional Jewish music played by a band of locals and musicians from the capital. Even the POLIN Jewish museum of Warsaw was consulted in staging the event, according to Nasza Mlawa. The wedding is not the only attempt by Radzanw locals to reconnect with their villages lost Jewish heritage. Last year, a high school student from the region, Cuba Balinski, initiated a project aimed at rededicating and reopening the villages abandoned synagogue a small but beautiful Moorish-style building that miraculously survived the Nazi occupation. Balinski, who has secured the cooperation of the Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland for his project but is still looking for investors, is adamant about restoring the synagogue to a house of worship rather than having it turn into museum. If there is no Torah in the synagogue, than it is still just a building, he told the news site Gosc Plocki. But if we bring the holy book back, it will come back to life. Jpost staff contributed to this story. Share on facebook

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August 10, 2017   Posted in: Jerusalem  Comments Closed


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